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Summer 2017: Clematis & Gardenias

I love tulips but I don’t have any in the garden. As soon as I plant the bulbs the voles invite all their friends over for an eating orgy. So, imagine my surprise and delight when I recently discovered a tulip-look-alike substitute, the award-winning vine, Clematis ‘Duchess of Albany.’ Zones 4-9. (Photo below.)

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

Don’t know what took me so long — the Duchess was introduced to commerce in 1894. And she possesses many assets, including profuse flowering from late July to September, and thereafter showy golden pinwheel like seed heads. The plant blooms on new growth and once established can grow 6-12 feet after hard pruning in the Spring. Moreover, the vine is so hardy and easy-care that it is on the International Clematis Society’s “Clematis For Beginners List”. Provide rich, well-drained soil and water on a regular basis. With adequate support, the Duchess grows well in the ground or in a container.

 

I love gardenias and I treasure Gardenia ‘Chuck Hayes’ (Zones 7-9) in my garden. (Photo below.)

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

Before Chuck, I tried about 7 or 8 different gardenias and none survived . Then ten years ago Chuck arrived on the scene with the promise of cold-hardiness in my U.S. East Coast Zone 7. But when winter frost arrived that first year, I was so taken with the plant’s beauty and fragrance I rushed Chuck indoors to safety — and put him back outside the following June when the danger had passed. That’s been the modus operandi every year since.

My organic garden’s health relies heavily on beneficial insects and birds to control the damage caused by pests. Needless to say, those garden helpers don’t live in my house. I was taking a risk with Chuck since many other house plants didn’t make it. But he surpassed all expectations: No pests and no disease. A Super Hero!

Chuck is an evergreen shrub with deliciously fragrant double flowers from July to October, and lustrous, dark green foliage. He flourishes in a large container with acidic soil and regular water. He does grow quite big–about 3 feet tall and wide-and I’ve had to prune him back a couple of times.

I have been tempted to leave him out over winter, protected with conifer branches — the method I use with container roses — but these days Mother Nature has been too crazed and erratic. Maybe someday.

Summer 2017: Roses & Clematis

Trouble in Paradise:

A pox on ticks!!!! Our gardens are harboring thousands of these blood-sucking vampires. It’s impossible to avoid them. My husband and I have already suffered 4 debilitating bouts of Lyme Disease. (And I shuddered when I read that in northern New England large numbers of moose have been killed by ticks.) Enough already. WE NEED A VACCINE!!!!

Our Oaks are also in need of help. A deadly fungal disease, Oak Wilt, is killing the trees by cutting off their supply of food and water. Last year the disease spread to six new locations in New York, including the East End of Long Island where I garden. The catastrophic loss of oaks would be devastating to our landscapes and to our wildlife. As yet, there is no cure, but there are preventive measures suggested by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation:

Oak Wilt is spread by insects, especially sap beetles, which are attracted to fresh tree wounds. Therefore, prune oaks between October and February — not during the sap-flowing growing season. And learn to identify the symptoms of Oak Wilt, which include discoloration around the leaf edge and a sudden, substantial loss of summer foliage. For more information, contact the DEC Forest Health office: 1-866-640-0652; or e-mail photos of tree symptoms to: foresthealth@dec.ny.gov

Pretty In Pink:

On to happier thoughts. The roses are in their glory, releasing intoxicating fragrance about the garden. I am partial to the disease-resistant Kordes roses, like the enchanting, multi-award-winning climber, Rosa ‘Jasmina’. We revel in her delicious perfume, which travels on the air all the way to our upper house deck — over 20 feet high. Photos below. (For more about the Kordes Nursery and roses see the post: “July 2014: Celebration of Roses.”)

copyright 2017 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

I do grow and treasure one non-fragrant rose, another multi-award-winning Kordes beauty, Rosa ‘Larissa’. If you are looking for a repeat bloomer that is über hardy and disease-resistant (disease-free for me), and will flourish in a container, look no further. Albeit non-fragrant, I love Larissa’s small, densely-petaled, cotton-candy-pink flowers. Photo below. (Larissa is still in bud. Photo from last year.)

copyright 2017 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

Speaking of a hardy, healthy, floriferous bloomer that will thrive in a container, consider Clematis ‘Minuet.’ This small-flowered  viticella Clematis does not suffer from the dreaded Clematis Wilt which plagues large-flowered Clematis. A big plus. As a general rule, viticellas are extremely hardy and disease-resistant. And pruning is a piece of cake. Minuet blooms on new growth, so in early Spring I prune the old stems down to the ground. (I wait until there is no risk of frost because the old stems provide protection for the crown of the plant — and birds appreciate any remaining seeds.) In the wink of an eye, new stems emerge and the vine produces masses of charming, purple-pink edged white flowers. Photo below.

copyright 2017 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

Note: In his 1597 Herball, John Gerard did caution gardeners about the viticella Clematis: “it climeth aloft,” he said, “and taketh hold with its crooked claspers upon everything that standeth nere unto it!” Ergo, keep to a safe distance.

Wishing you all a fabulous Fourth of July! a fabulous and.

Spring 2017: Fragrant Radiance

We live in an extraordinarily trying time.

Mother Nature has been almost as erratic and misguided as the Ruling Class in D.C.

Yet, this Spring, she seems to have had a brief change of heart: The garden has never looked as splendid, bursting at the seams with awe-inspiring bloom. Especially impressive are the Rhododendrons, like the purple-flowering variety shown below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

A few Rhododendrons possess both spectacular bloom and fragrance. One of the finest is the award-winning R. ‘Loderi King George’ (Zones 7-9). In 1920, this beauty was hybridized by Sir Edmund Loder in England and it has been prized ever since. (One of George’s parents, R. fortunei, is discussed in the previous post.) Large snowy-white blossoms produce fragrance that carries on the air and fills the garden with intoxicating perfume. The shrub’s foliage does suffer winter damage, but the plant quickly produces new pristine green leaves in the Spring. Photo below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Another intensely fragrant Rhododendron is the native deciduous azalea, R. ‘Choptank Rose Seedling’ (Zones 5-8). This seedling comes from a group of natural hybrid azaleas (atlanticum x periclymenoides) discovered along the Choptank River, on the Maryland/Delaware border. With a seedling, you never know for sure what the flower will look like. I lucked out. Photo below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Joining Spring’s sweet symphony, the Broom, Cytisus scoparius ‘Moonlight’ (Zones 6-8), produces an abundance of fragrant, creamy-yellow, pea-like flowers. When the flowers fade, purple seed pods add to the dazzle. Moonlight is an easy-care, drought-tolerant shrub that requires sun and well-drained soil. While Broom has a sorry reputation for being short-lived, my plants are over twenty years old and are still going strong. (Just protect against voles!). Photos below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

If you are looking for a fragrant flowering, shade-loving, deer-resistant, perennial ground cover, consider Convallaria majalis’ Albostriata’ (Zones 3-7). About forty-five years ago, while touring the Lake District in England with my husband, a sprig of enchanting lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria) graced our table at dinner. I was smitten and now treasure them in my garden. The variegated form, Albostriata, is relatively new to me and is certainly worth having for the foliage alone. Note: It may occasionally revert to an all green leaf. Photo below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, an exciting plant from a warmer clime. My friend Dee lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and sent me a photo of a showy shrub blooming in her garden: Caesalpinia gilliesii (Desert/Yellow Bird Of Paradise).  This red-tongued Diva is native to Argentina and Uruguay and thrives in Zones 8-11. It isn’t fragrant but Hummingbirds love it. And so do I!  Sometimes the grass is greener.

copyright 2017 – Dee Finkelstein

2017: Year Of The Rooster & Global Warming

2017 is the Year of the Rooster when evil spirits are supposed to be exorcised.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

So where was the Rooster when Mother Nature moved to Crazyville and decided to play topsy-turvy with the seasons? On February 8, in the dead of winter, we were enjoying balmy weather in the 60’s and the flowers of the Witchhazel, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel,’ filled the garden with fragrance.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

On February 9 — the very next day — we suffered a deep freeze along with a foot and a half of snow. The storm was accompanied by thunder, lightning, and strong winds that blew our 6 ft. x 4 ft. metal chimney-cap off the roof and smashed it into a group of bud-heavy Rhododendron, causing untold damage. And the heavy snowfall changed tall shrubs into groundcovers.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Dramatic shifts in weather continued into March when we had another run of unusually warm weather. On March 9th, Hellebores were in full bloom, fat Pieris buds were showing color, Sarcococca bloomed a month early, and the birds were singing love songs — all in hopeful anticipation of Spring. Alas, these hopes were dashed when frigid temperatures returned and heavy snow fell again on March 10th. (Photos below in order of mention.)

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Across the country, climate change has also caused soaring temperatures, blizzards, tornados, severe droughts and wildfires, horrific floods and mudslides. It simply belies reason that despite unimpeachable scientific evidence and real life experience, many of our recently elected representatives refuse to admit that we have a global warming problem.

Worse still, instead of coming up with solutions,Trump & Co. are part of the problem: They are intent on repealing our clean air and clean water protections and the President’s budget mandates sweeping cuts in funding for The Environmental Protection Agency. I don’t get it. Could this be President Trump’s idea of “America First”?

I’m reminded of the ancient saying: “If you keep a green tree in your heart, a singing bird may come.”

Will any birds sing for us?

Jan.\Feb. 2017: Fragrant Native Plants

It’s the start of a New Year but we gardeners don’t have much to celebrate: Mother Nature has again locked us into a dizzying weather roller coaster. And I mean locked. The first week in January we were housebound for five days after a snow storm. With an accumulation of over a foot of snow and freezing cold temperatures, we couldn’t open a door to the outside. Then the weather turned balmy and all the snow melted. Photos below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Warm days followed, then freezing temps again, and snow again, and then a return of the tropics AGAIN! These dramatic swings in weather are driving me and the plants cuckoo. As soon as there is a run of warm weather, the buds of a number of spring-flowering shrubs — forsythia, rhododendron, and camellia, to name a few — open and are zapped by frost. Not pretty. And too many plants just up and die.

When I think about the added stress of coping with deer, rabbits, voles, et al., I’m sorely tempted to throw in the trowel.

Ultimately, though, the pleasures of having a garden outweigh the problems. Especially the priceless joy I receive from fragrant plants providing natural aromatherapy in my own backyard. (Recently, I read about a new fragrance trend in New York City luxury apartment buildings: Lobbies and hallways are saturated with synthetic aromas blown in through ductwork or stand-alone machines. Quite frankly, I think it’s dreadful — too much like being caught in an elevator with someone heavily doused in strong cologne.)

Plantsman William Cullina once said, “My favorite part of winter is spring.” On that note, here are two of my favorite Spring-blooming, fragrant, American beauties:

Rhododendron ‘Snowbird’, a deciduous native Azalea (z 6-8), has deliciously fragrant white flowers and blue-green, mildew-resistant foliage. I grow Snowbird in organic rich, well-drained, acid soil, in a shady area close to a path. Photo below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ (z 5-9), is an award-winning, fragrant, native vine. While the lovely flowers may not be as dazzling as those of its Asian cousins, W. sinensis* and W. floribunda, its reliable bloom and restrained growth are more suitable for a home garden. And my plant does fine in dappled shade. Photos below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

*Note: I have to constantly prune the rapacious roots of my Chinese wisteria, W. sinensis, especially when they sneak into the compost pile. Not to mention that in the wink of an eye its stems wrapped five large oaks in fond embrace.

December 2016: Singin’ The Blues

We are fast approaching the end of 2016 and I’m dreamin’ of Spring and singin’ the blues — garden blues.

Before you are seduced by the glossy photos in 2017 plant catalogs, I’d like to bring to your attention a number of captivating “blue” plants that have been time-tested in my organic garden:

Rhododendron ‘Turquoise and Gold’ is a 3 foot tall, mildew-resistant (for me, mildew-free) deciduous azalea. For twelve years the shrub has exceeded expectations with lush displays of beautiful, deliciously fragrant golden flowers, and healthy, blue-hued foliage. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’ (Korean Fir) is a compact, slow-growing (3-6 inches a year) evergreen conifer — a distinctive tree, with upright blue cones in Spring, and wondrous, tightly curled, green needled foliage with silver undersides. Photo below. (I should note that for the first few years in my garden the tree’s greenish-white cones never turned blue. Why? I haven’t a clue.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Pinus parviflora ‘Glauca'(a/k/a Glauca Group) is a tall, vigorous, very cold-hardy Japanese White Pine. This handsome tree has evergreen, blue-green-silvery foliage and is embellished in the Spring with an abundance of pink — yes, pink! — cones. And ‘Glauca’ has been problem free for 25 years. Photos below of the cones and foliage.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, another shout out for Henna Coleus. (See Post: “September 2016: Ode To Late Summer”.) Henna isn’t blue, but deserving of celebration nonetheless. While her Coleus container companions died in October, Henna continued to flaunt her ruffles thru Thanksgiving. I replaced the dead plants with conifer stems. A whole new look. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Autumn 2016: Garden Successes Part 3

This is an oak mast year like none other: Torrents of acorns have been raining down on our heads for months. We need to buy helmets. Mother Nature is fond of oak forests. Me, not so much.

We remove bucket upon bucket overflowing with acorns from our garden beds, decks and paths, yet an abundance of acorns remains. The woodland creatures don’t seem the least bit interested in eating acorns. Even the usual suspects, the squirrels, act as if acorns have nothing to do with them — they are always at the bird feeders, along with the chipmunks.

But I digress. I really want to talk about 2016 garden successes:

First and foremost is the vine Lablab purpureus (Hyacinth Bean), a fast growing, showy annual. Flaunting purple stems, purple flushed green foliage, and purple flowers, Lablab is a dazzler. And when the flowers fade, the vine produces amazing mahogany-red bean pods.

I last grew the vine in 2004, collected the mature black and white beans — when the pods turned brown and dry — and stored them in the refrigerator in a small glass jar. For years, every time I opened the fridge door they screamed, “Plant us, plant us already!”

So, this year, I did.

Scientists germinated a date-palm seed that was nearly 2,000 years old and my beans were only 12. A piece of cake. Yet to ensure success, I soaked the beans in hot water overnight, planted them in a large, tall container with a tripod to avoid voles and rabbits, and waited until late July’s hot weather — a condition precedent for germination. Within weeks, they were on their way up the tripod, and soon after, Lablab flowers and pods appeared. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Berried plants are also good doers, especially the native Common Winterberry (Ilex verticillata). My Winterberry shrubs thrive in moist, acid soil in shade and have been winter-hardy and disease-free for over twenty years. While hybridizers have produced scores of named cultivars, I love the Common Winterberry form. There is nothing common about it. Just ask the birds. Every year they gorge themselves on the berries and every year we find — happily find — Winterberry volunteers in the garden. Photos of the berries below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) is another outstanding native plant and my natural groundcover. All the woodland creatures love its berries — and so do I. (While we have close to four acres, I’m lucky if they leave me enough to bake a pie.) As a bonus, come Autumn, the blueberry foliage is aglow with color. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Garden successes — and plants in general — do help to offset the angst of a sorry Presidential election. Have a joyous Thanksgiving!

2016 Garden Successes: Part 2

The luminous, evergreen Rhododendron ‘Solidarity’ was hybridized by my friend, the late great plantsman, Hank Schannen. Several plants have flourished in my garden for over 20 years, despite Mother Nature’s relentless assaults. Given shade, well draining acid soil and adequate water, Solidarity has been disease free and has bloomed reliably every year. With dark pink buds that open to extra-large pink flowers that fade to white, the vigorous shrub is a sight to behold. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Another May/June bloomer gracing my garden is Hank Schannen’s favorite Azalea, the dazzling Rhododendron ‘Ben Morrison’.  Equally hardy and disease free, it’s a unique evergreen Azalea with bi-color flower buds as striking as its abundant flowers. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

A plant that does not perform with vigor, yet survived horrific icy winters and oppressively hot and droughty summers, Tree Peony, Paeonia ‘Yae Zakura’ (Host of Cherry Blossoms) is enchanting. I’m so besotted that if the plant only produces one or two exquisite, shell-pink flowers, I’d be content. Amend the planting soil with lime and or wood ash if your garden soil is acid. Photos below of Yae Zakura’s flower and colorful Fall foliage.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, for both beauty and vigor, I recommend the award-winning herbaceous peony, Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

September 2016: Ode To Late Summer

Recent editions of an Oxford Junior Dictionary, aimed at seven-year-olds, eliminated the following words that the editors considered no longer relevant to the lives of modern children: “acorn”, “dandelion”, “fern”, “nectar” and “pasture.” I find this very sad.

Sadder still, was this Summer’s abysmal weather. In recent years, hot, muggy days and drought, likely caused by global warming, resulted in lasting damage to the landscape. So I too must identify and edit, weeding out plants — including long-time favorites — that will not thrive in a “modern” garden.

Yet, thankfully, Mother Nature’s bounty is infinite. Despite the egregious growing conditions, there were a number of garden successes worthy of mention:

Phlox paniculata.  This summer I grew several colorful, fragrant, mildew-resistant Phlox in a large container. I’m still enjoying the rewards — along with grateful hummingbirds and butterflies. Photo below. (See also post of January 2016, “What’s New: Klehm’s Song Sparrow”.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Clerodendrum trichotomum. Another plant that fills the air with delicious fragrance, Clerodendrum, commonly called Harlequin Glorybower, blooms for me in late August/early September. When the white tubular flowers fade they are followed by lovely pink calyxes. Not a bad investment for the dog days of summer. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Moreover, in October, the calyxes open to reveal pea-sized, showy, metallic-blue fruit. (For photos, see post of October 2012, “Autumn Update: Iochroma & Clerodendrum.”)

Glorybower is stoloniferous and begets many volunteers. While some regard this as a fault, I welcome fragrant, fruiting gifts from Mother Nature. So do the bees. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Henna Coleus (a/k/a Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Balcenna’). Henna is an award-winning Coleus and a 2016 trendsetter: Ruffles are the new IN THING for Fall couture and Henna has ruffles a-plenty. A Garden Fashionista. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Apart from frilly edges, Henna flaunts chartreuse centers splashed with reddish-purple, and burgundy undersides. A fabulous foliage plant for sun or shade. And Henna plays well with others. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

It has been suggested that Coleus flowers should be removed because they cause the plant to become leggy and unattractive. Not a problem with Henna, which either flowers very late in the season or not at all. (I rather like the long spikes of pale blue flowers that attract butterflies and I don’t remove them.) Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron bureavii x yakushimanum is an outstanding foliage plant. Rhododendrons are usually celebrated for their flowers, but this shrub’s sensational new stems and foliage covered in orange suede take top billing. It is one of the most admired plants in my garden. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate.’ While this Mimosa Tree produces flowers that are magnets for butterflies, it is the exquisite purple foliage that makes it a must-have plant. And ‘Summer Chocolate’ is hardy, vigorous, and easy-care. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Update: Cornus kousa ‘ Milky Way’ still a-flower in September. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

2016 Garden Treasure: Cornus kousa ‘Milky Way’

As recently reported by The New York Times, the Yao people of Mozambique have formed a working partnership with wild “honeyguide” birds: After communicating through an exchange of sounds and gestures, the birds lead the Yao to beehives hidden high up in trees. After the tribesmen subdue the bees and extract the honey, the birds happily eat the leftover beeswax, a good source of calories.

Impressive! But these wild birds have nothing on my helpful, domesticated Grandpets. Consider my Grandcat, Callie. When there is computer work to be done, she is always ready to lend a helping paw.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

IMG_0011

 

And sometimes more than a paw.

Callie on Computer.one

 

 

My Granddog Zoe, on the other hand, has no interest in computer work.

zoe

 

But when there was a Donkey invasion, she rose to the occasion by bravely facing down the enemy.

IMG_1323

 

I treasure my “helpful” Grandpets.

 

And when I choose plants for the garden, I treasure those that truly work for me, not the other way around. One of my favorites is the Kousa Dogwood, ‘Milky Way’. As a general rule, kousas bloom in the month of June. The amazing Milky Way blooms continuously from June through August—oft-times into September. That is flower power! (June, July, August photos below.)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

When the flowers finally fade, the tree produces an abundance of green lollypop-like fruit that eventually turns scarlet red. Irresistible to songbirds. And in the Fall, Milky Way’s dark green foliage turns glorious shades of autumnal orange. Moreover, when established, the trunk bark exfoliates like a Stewartia. A stellar multi-season performer.

Kousas are free of the dreaded anthracnose disease that has devastated our native dogwood population, Cornus florida. Indeed, for the twenty years Milky Way has graced my garden, it’s been entirely disease-free. Provide rich, acid, well-drained soil.

NOTE: August heat-waves and drought create problem conditions for plants. But not for the August blooming, shrub-like, hardy perennial, Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’. This is its fifth season in my garden and every year–regardless of weather–the huge, gorgeous flowers attract hummingbirds, bumble bees and me!  A late-summer WOW plant.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

July 2016: Summer Fragrance

Health Alert: A new study has found a link between exercise and a reduced risk of 13 cancers. People who exercised moderately had significantly less risk of developing cancer than those who were sedentary. And increased exercise dramatically reduced the risk.

While formal exercise is a non-starter for me, I hope to reap health benefits by working endless hours in the garden. Natural beauty and intoxicating floral aromas are good for the soul as well as the body.

I’d like to share with you a sampling of outstanding summer-blooming fragrant plants that have been time-tested in my garden:

Rosa ‘Compassion’ is an award-winning, very fragrant, repeat-blooming climbing rose. With disease-resistant foliage and beautiful apricot-pink flowers, it’s always a hands down favorite when I lecture on roses. I grow Compassion in a large container set beside an arch. In December, I cloak the entire plant with protective conifer branches. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Lollipop’ is a deciduous, hardy, summer-blooming azalea with mildew-resistant foliage. Numerous pink flowers possess a lovely sweet fragrance. Provide moist, well-drained, acidic soil. (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Daphne x transatlantica ‘Blafra’, a/k/a Daphne Eternal Fragrance, is an ideal plant for a large or small garden. For a shrub of modest size — 2 to 3 feet tall — it packs a wallop of a return: masses of small, white, intensely fragrant flowers with a long bloom season from Spring to Fall. Be aware that Daphne has a well-earned reputation for being temperamental and unpredictable, ofttimes dying for no discernible reason. But so far — five years and counting — Eternal Fragrance is happy growing in shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Maybe this cultivar is the exception — eternal after all. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea) is a winter-hardy, trouble-free, native shrub, with multi-seasons of interest. In Summer, it produces large panicles of showy sterile and fertile white flowers. When the fertile flowers open in July, they release a delicious fragrance that carries on the air. The sterile flowers slowly change from snowy white to pink. And in the Autumn, the foliage turns vibrant shades of red and orange. In addition, as a special bonus, when the shrub is established in the garden its woody stems will exfoliate.

Oakleaf Hydrangea can grow quite large — 6 to 8+ feet tall, and the same across. (The shrub is stoloniferous so volunteers pop up around the mother plant adding to its girth.) My plants thrive in shade with compost-rich acid soil. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Finally, the native woodland wildflower, Chimaphila maculata (Striped Wintergreen a/k/a Pipsissewa), comes and goes in the garden beds and in the gravel paths and driveway. This diminutive charmer has tiny, nodding white flowers with a green button eye. The flower’s luscious perfume is to die for. Wish I could bottle it. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

NOTE: I have been asked the name of the gorgeous, long-lived peony I mentioned in the Post of Jan.27: “2016 What’s New: Klehm’s Song Sparrow”. The peony’s cultivar name is ‘Largo’. (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Spring 2016: Beautiful Gardens of Virginia

A recent study concluded that viewing pictures of nature can help people recover from stress. According to Magdalena van den Berg, who led the study at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the effects would probably be magnified if someone could visit nature and see actual greenery.

I can attest to that. My garden is a constant source of comfort and pleasure. And at the April 2016 American Rhododendron Society/Azalea Society of America Convention in Virginia, I was afforded the opportunity to tour many fabulous gardens. Here are a few highlights:

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden had a number of interesting design features.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Walls were adorned with Lady Banks roses (Rosa banksiae).

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And extraordinary trees were showcased, especially the Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia).

 

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

[Note: The Ginter added this surprising No No to the usual list of visitor guidelines:” The Use Of Drones Is Prohibited.” A sign of the times.]

 

Striking in design was a private, Japanese influenced garden, with a tea house by a pond surrounded by colorful Japanese Maples. Especially lovely were the images of the maples reflected in the water.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Further enhancing the beauty of the garden were the pink double blossoms of the elegant Japanese Cherry Trees (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’).

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

In another private garden, a dazzling Viburnum drew many admirers — including my husband. (Note the wonderful blossoms marching two by two up and down the stems. My kind of buddy-system!)

 

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copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And then there were the glorious flowering Azaleas. Notable among them:

The fragrant flowering deciduous native Azalea, Rhododendron austrinum ‘Escatawpa’.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And the evergreen Azalea hybrids, R. ‘Herbert’ and R. ‘Linwood Lavender.’

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

All are winter hardy in my area, Northeast Zone 7a. Sadly, not so for my two favorite Azaleas: R. ‘George Lindley Tabor’ (a\k\a ‘Taber’) and its sport R. ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’. (The large, showy, pure-white flowers of Mrs. G.G. Gerbing are so irresistible, I’m tempted to ignore her zonal shortcomings.)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, I loved the winter-hardy shrub, Kerria japonica, a golden-flowering Diva flaunting her stuff in a private shady garden.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Kudos to the hosts and organizers of the 2016 ARS/ASA National Convention for an outstanding, rewarding experience!

2016 What’s New: Klehm’s Song Sparrow

In 1990 I discovered that Klehm Nursery (now Klehm’s Song Sparrow) was the source for a gorgeous peony I saw at the New York Flower Show, and I have been a loyal customer and fan ever since. While the Nursery has changed names and location (originally South Barrington, IL.), its commitment to providing a wide mail-order selection of outstanding plants — and, equally important, outstanding customer service — has been constant and unwavering.

Klehm’s 2016 new plant offerings are especially exciting. Here are a few of my picks:

 

Buddleia davidii ‘Glass Slippers’ (Butterfly Bush). z. 5-9.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

A yummy light-blue, orange-eyed, fragrant-flowering, silvery-green foliaged, compact plant that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees — who could resist? Planting Tip: If you have acidic soil, before planting amend with lime or wood ash to raise the pH. Buddleias are partial to sweet soil.

 

Phlox paniculata Bubblegum Pink; P.p. Coral Creme Drop; P.p.Cotton Candy; P.p. Grape Lollipop. zones 4-8.

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Many years ago, on a garden tour of Bainbridge Island, Washington, I saw a show-stopping container filled to bursting with fragrant, colorful phlox, and I’m forever trying to duplicate that fabulousness in my garden. Mildew can wreck a phlox display, so mildew-resistant plants are essential. Happily, you can’t do better than the rainbow of beautiful, fragrant, disease-resistant plants pictured above. And did I mention that like Buddleia, these long-blooming, vigorous plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds? My order is in.

 

Carex siderosticha ‘Snow Cap’ z. 5-9.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

This new Asian sedge hybrid is true to the variety siderosticha in every important way: It’s a low growing, long-lived, deer-resistant plant that spreads slowly into a dense mass of foliage. But this isn’t the typical green-leaved form. Snow Cap dazzles with broad snowy-white leaves edged in green, with an occasional green stripe bonus. An ideal woodland/shade garden ground cover.

 

Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii Candy z. 4-7

Photo credit to Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo credit to Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Candy is all about the berries. In Autumn, this deer-resistant, ornamental woody’s branches are smothered under an avalanche of candy-pink fruit. And the decorative berries persist thru winter. Since the shrub is so compact — only about 2 feet at maturity — a front edging row of plants would create a glorious Autumn/Winter destination planting.

 

Note: The gorgeous peony that led me to Klehm 26 years ago is still flowering and healthy. Needless to say, Klehm is also my go-to place for peonies. The Klehm selection surpasses all others.

For easy access to Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery website, click on at LINKS.

2015 Year-End Beauty/Spring Promise

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

The sun will soon set on 2015. After the last brutal winter, who would have thought the final days this year would be so unseasonably warm? Morning air even smells of Spring. No wonder the plants are confused. Forsythia and Rhododendron flowers have jumped the gun and opened 4-5 months early. I wish they had exercised a modicum of restraint. Hopefully, others will not follow them like lemmings, for the killing frost will surely arrive any day.

 

Yet, no call for restraint is necessary or appropriate for the fragrant flowering evergreen ground cover , Erica darleyensis ‘Mediterranean White’ and ‘Mediterranean Pink’ (Heath).

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

For twenty-five years these low-growing, shrub-like plants have bloomed continuously from November thru early Spring, unfazed by frost or snow. Amazing! Moreover, they are easy care, disease free plants. Provide well-draining soil, regular water, and in order to maintain their compact, dense growth, prune after flowering. There is one downside: voles love ’em! (To avoid vole damage, see my Post, April 2, 2012,”Hot Tips: Vole Damage Prevention”.)

 

 

Another dazzler, Rhododendron ‘Marshy Point’s Humdinger’, has been flowering since Fall and will continue to bloom until frost. Then, after a well deserved rest, this wonderful evergreen azalea will produce abundant bloom again in the Spring. (Spring and Winter Photos below of Humdinger showing off in the garden and in the house. For detailed culture information see my Post, March 1, 2013, “Azalea ‘Marshy Point’s Humdinger’.”)

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Colorful berries and buds also add interest and beauty to the December winter garden. Like the yellow-orange fruit of Crabapple X that the birds planted in the garden years ago. (Truth be told, all the crabs I planted have died from cedar apple rust disease, but, for some unknown reason, the bird-planted-crab flourishes. Needless to say, I don’t know the cultivar name and the birds ain’t talkin’. Photos below include Crabapple X’s beautiful buds and flowers as well as berries.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Camellia ‘Crimson Candles’, a hardy, vigorous, disease-resistant variety, is bursting with buds that are just beginning to take on the showy, rich-red color they will flaunt all winter. (Photos below. For more information and a photo of Crimson Candles’s rosy-red flowers, see my Post, “2015 What’s New? Camellia Forest Nursery”.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Pieris flower buds are also showing color, as in the photo below of Pieris x ‘Spring Snow’. (I have already written extensively about a number of shade-loving, deer-resistant, fragrant-flowering Pieris, including Spring Snow. For culture information and flower photos of P. x ‘Spring Snow’ as well as P. japonica ‘Mountain Fire’, see my Post, April 2014, “Spring 2014: Snow-White Extravaganza”.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, the natural splendor of a mossy cushion.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

From my garden to yours: Have a joyous, healthy New Year!

Autumn 2015: Flora Electric

This autumn the garden was—and is still— beautiful, splashed-painted like a Jackson Pollock in shades of orange, red, pink, purple, and gold. And, not to be outdone, the local farm stands produced an extravaganza of magnificent pumpkin displays.

Now, in an unsettled time of international, brutal terror attacks, Mother Nature’s gift of beauty is especially welcome:

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Family, friends, the garden. Much to be thankful for.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sept./Oct. 2015: Early Autumn Delights

A FEW GARDEN CREATURES:

Was Mother Nature a bit tipsy when she designed the odd, multi-featured, Large Tolype Moth, seen here attached to our kitchen screen door? So strange, I could scarcely believe my eyes. Gotta love it!!!

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Happily, Autumn also signaled increased sightings of our beloved box turtles, young and old, like this mature turtle with fabulous starburst markings.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

PLANTS:

Canna Tropicana, featured in my last Post, and purple-leafed Canna ‘Australia’, continue to produce their lovely, hummingbird-magnet flowers. (Photos below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And along with many other red-berried woody ornamentals in my garden, the native shrub Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, and the Chinese shrub Tea Viburnum, Viburnum setigerum, attract both local and migrating songbirds. (Photos below)

(NOTE: Lowbush Blueberry plants, Vaccinium angustifolium, are our native ground cover. The berries ripen in summer but are plucked by the birds even before they are fully ripe. There are no berries left in Autumn. Blueberries are included in this Autumn Post (third photo below) solely at the insistence of the birds. They sent me a singing telegram.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Yellow berries are not favored by birds—-at least not when red fruit is plentiful. (It has been suggested that red (and blue) berries recommended for human consumption because of anthocyanins, potent antioxidants, also attract birds for health-promoting reasons.) Their disfavor is a big plus for us: we get to enjoy the extended showy display of yellow-berried fruit produced by the Asian shrub Linden Viburnum, Viburnum x dilatatum ‘Michael Dodge’.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I’m always entranced by the striking Autumn beauty of Hydrangea x ‘Sweet Chris’. This plant never disappoints. (Photos below. See also Posts: August 3, 2014 and July 8, 2012 for photos of Sweet Chris’s gorgeous summer flowers and for plant information. Click on at ARCHIVES.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, for months now, massive quantities of acorns have been falling from the oaks — often onto our heads — blanketing plant beds, decks, etc.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

For the last two years, substantial mast output was followed by brutal winters. Many believe there is a connection between the two. If so, it doesn’t bode well. All the more reason to appreciate the remaining days and joys of Autumn.

2015: Late Summer Delights

Fall is fast approaching. BEGONE hot, muggy, droughty, weather!!! All too often I’ve had to drag the hose about in a 90+ degree heat wave. Not a great summer, this.

Yet, I would be remiss if I failed to mention a few late summer joys:

Baptisia australis is a multi-stemmed, shrub-like, native perennial with many virtues. In late Spring, the plant flaunts spires of showy, true-blue flowers, which are transformed in August into large, dramatic, purple-blue seed pods. (Pod photo below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Pluck a stem, shake a pod, and you have a child’s rattle. Or, better still, if you are a fan of Latin-American music, a maraca. Traditional maracas are dried gourd shells filled with seeds or beans and then mounted on wooden handles. Baptisia maracas are good to go as is. Great fun!

Baptisias are easy-care and attract butterflies. Unfortunately, they also attract root-nibbling voles. (Check out my time-tested method of vole prevention: April 2, 2012 Post, “Hot Tips: Vole Damage Protection.”) Hybridizers have had a go at Baptisia and scores of cultivars are now available with flowers in various shades of blue, purple and yellow.

 

Rhododendron prunifolium is a problem-free, deciduous, native azalea that attracts bees and butterflies. In my shady organic garden, a small plant has grown into a 12 foot tall, 4 foot wide, sensation, reliably cloaked every August with masses of vibrant orange-red flowers. This year I’ve paired it with a container of the equally sensational, hummingbird favorite, Canna Lily Tropicana (a/k/a Canna ‘Phasion’). A fabulous combo. (Photos below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

A strange, beautiful bug visited the garden this summer. I called the Cornell Cooperative Extension and they provided an I.D: Sphinx moth. (Photo below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Apparently, these interesting, heavy-bodied moths aren’t uncommon here, but I never saw one before. It’s most welcome! If you have a question about a bug or a plant, Cornell is an outstanding resource. Call their free Helpline: (631) 727-4126, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon.

 

And finally, everyone loves our newest summer attraction: Swanee.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

July/August 2015: Summer Fragrance

Smart-phone technology marches on. No, your phone won’t be able to walk the dog or wash windows, but thanks to intensive research and development you will soon be able to send and receive a variety of scents along with your e-mails. If that sort of thing appeals to you.

I’m not a fan. As a general rule, I find synthetic scents harsh and uninviting. For me — as my readers are aware — nothing can match the real thing, namely the captivating, natural fragrance of plants in the garden. Here are a few choice beauties for the summer garden:

Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Lemon Drop’ is a deciduous azalea that produces masses of pale-yellow, fragrant flowers in July. Despite the oppressively hot and humid weather this summer, Lemon Drop’s delicious perfume carried on the air for about three weeks. (In the photo below, the flowers appear white, but they are actually pale-yellow. If rich-butter-yellow, fragrant flowers are more to your liking, try the wonderful Spring-blooming deciduous azalea, R. ‘Narcissiflora’. For Narcissiflora photos, click onto my Post of Jan. 2014, “2014: My Favorite Deciduous Azaleas”.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Passiflora ‘Incense’ will add an exotic and dramatic element to the garden. I planted this sultry, fragrant climber almost twenty years ago. In my Zone 7a organic garden, tropical plants — including other passion flowers — die in winter never to return. Incense, on the other hand, dies down with frost, yet every summer returns with a vengeance. And the plant produces passion fruits! Amazing! (Recent photos below of flowers and fascinating spiked buds. For earlier Incense photos, including one of passion fruit, click onto my Post of Aug.11, 2012, “Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ and Passiflora ‘Incense'”.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, a Hot Tip. Every summer my driveway is overrun with weeds. I treasure and protect the volunteers of foxglove, iris, and the like, but I’ve devoted many hours hand-plucking the undesirables. My thanks to a member of my garden club who recommended using undiluted vinegar to kill the weeds. I tried it and it worked. I recommend it without hesitation. (Before and after photos below.)

BEFORE VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

BEFORE VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

BEFORE VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

BEFORE VINEGAR
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AFTER VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

June 2015: SPLENDID SURVIVORS

THIS WAS THE WORST WINTER EVER!!!

A number of roses I successfully grew in containers for 15+years turned black and died. My 20 year old, 18 foot tall, multi-trunk fig tree — that last year produced an over-abundance of fruit — died to the ground. (Thankfully, it has just pushed up new growth from the roots.) Similarly, the osmanthus and camellias didn’t perish, but they all suffered extensive, unsightly, foliage/stem die-back.

Ditto for the hydrangeas — but not all of the hydrangeas. For the second year in a row the macrophylla mopheads sustained considerable damage, while the lacecaps came through in pristine condition. Two of my captivating, cold-tolerant lacecaps are rather unique: H. macrophylla ‘Lynn’ (Let’s Dance Starlight Series) is the very first re-blooming lacecap and H. macrophylla ‘Sol’ has unusual, handsome, red-flushed, dark-green foliage. (Photo below of Lynn followed by photo of Sol. And for photos and information about other wonderful lacecaps, see Post, “August 2014: Hydrangeas”.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

I purchased H. macrophylla ‘Lynn’ from a local source, Lynch’s Garden Center, Southampton, N.Y., and  H. macrophylla ‘Sol’ by mail-order from Hydrangeas Plus, www.hydrangeasplus.com; phone: 866-433-7896.

More good news. Gold stars go to each and every one of my Japanese Maples: They thumbed their noses at loony Mother Nature and came through her devastating winter onslaught without a scratch. I treasure them all, but Acer palmatum ‘Omure yama’ is deserving of special mention. The tree has an elegant form with pendulous branches and soft, willowy foliage. New leaf growth is touched with orange before turning green. And then, in the Fall — ZOWIE!!!! — the foliage turns glorious, enchanting shades of gold and crimson. Irresistible! (Photos below)

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

I bought my first Omure yama in 2007, and a second one this year. (Photo below of Omure 2015 in its mail-order pot waiting to be planted. Lovely form, even as a toddler.)

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Both trees were purchased from my go-to-source for Japanese Maples: Eastwoods Nurseries, Washington VA. For easy access to their website, click on at LINKS.

2015: Hot Tips & Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Aglo’

Good news alert: Coffee is the new blueberry.

Contrary to the belief that drinking coffee is bad for your health, studies involving about three million participants found otherwise. Persons with moderate consumption — two to six 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee a day—had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and stroke, as compared with those who drank none. Ditto for several forms of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Type 2 diabetes. (The New York Times, May 14, 2015, p.A3, “A Surprising Consensus on Coffee’s Health Benefits”)

Hurrah! About time we discovered that something we thought bad for us is actually good. Usually, it’s the other way around. (Remember margarine?.)

And now, not so surprising bad news: In December of 2013, European Union regulators announced that neonicotinoids, a particularly lethal class of pesticides that were temporarily banned in Europe in order to protect bees, may also affect human children’s nervous system. A Japanese study raised similar concerns in 2012. Forms of this pesticide, namely, Imidacloprid and Acetamiprid, constitute the active ingredients in garden products like Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control and Ortho Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer, still available for sale and use in the U.S.

Unlike the Europeans, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done nothing to protect children or the bees from these substances. (Since my prior Posts on neonicotinoids — May 2013, “Beauty & The Bees: Going, Going, Gone?,” and December 2014 “Bee Update” — 42.1 percent of bee colonies in the U.S. were reported lost in 2015, a significant increase over the 34.2 percent loss in 2014. And still the EPA refuses to act.)

More troubling news came in March of this year when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a respected arm of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s very popular herbicide Roundup, was a probable carcinogen. In the U.S., Roundup enjoys widespread use both in home gardens and commercial farms.

Until the United States EPA steps up and does its rightful regulatory job of protecting us from harm, instead of protecting the bottom line of mega-billion-dollar-corporations, we have to do that job ourselves as best we can. In order to make an informed choice, check the ingredient label on garden sprays and chemicals to see if they contain these deadly poisons. Even better, why not make your garden a toxic-chemical-free zone? It is possible to have healthy plants and a beautiful garden without them. And the birds, bees, and butterflies will thank you.

In my organic garden, Mother Nature’s recent, relentless, devastating, winter onslaughts are the real problem. So, I’ve been keeping track of the garden do-gooders, plants that have survived and thrived despite the loony weather. The divine, May flowering, evergreen beauty, Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Aglo’ is at the top of the list. (Photos below.)

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

April 2015: Salix caprea ‘Pendula’ & Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis

 

Spring has truly sprung! Good riddance to this:

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And say hello to a few fabulous early Spring bloomers:

Salix caprea ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Goat Willow) never fails to impress. In my garden, at the ripe old age of 22, it continues to produce decorative large gray catkins (pussy-willows) that open to bright yellow flowers. The bloom is a magnet for the exquisite Mourning Cloak Butterfly. ( Photos below).

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

First discovered on the banks of the River Ayr in Scotland, this deciduous small tree appreciates moist soil and is very cold-hardy. (Zones 4-8). At one time, Salix caprea was fed to goats — i.e., its common name — so if you have goats, beware. Otherwise, I have found it to be pest and disease free. 

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis is a handsome, low-growing, fragrant-flowering, evergreen shrub, an ideal ground cover for a shady garden. The early Spring flowers are tiny but release a delicious fragrance. (Photo below). When the flowers fade, a green berry is produced that matures to black.

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

While the shrub is stoloniferous, the volunteers don’t travel about but stay close to the Mother plant. (Photo below). Thus, far from being a nuisance, a single Sarcococca plant can quickly and efficiently cover a designated area.

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

In my organic garden the shrub has suffered no pest or disease problems. Moreover, unlike most plants that like to see the sky above their heads, Sarcococca will flourish planted under trees or shrubs. Just provide shade, and acid, well-drained, organic-rich soil. ( Zones 6-8).

2015 What’s New?: Deer Country Gardens

My garden sings with plants I purchased from Heronswood, Roslyn, and Fairweather Gardens. Sadly, all three nurseries have closed. They are missed.

The good news is that Deer Country Gardens, a retail/mail-order garden nursery, has recently opened. Nursery founder Anne Haines, an accomplished plantswoman, has a laudable mission: “To offer trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, annuals and edibles that are deer-resistant AND great garden plants.”

Included among the “greats”, Deer Country offers a choice selection of Pieris cultivars, a number of which I grow and love. In addition to deer resistance (deer-free in my garden), Pieris shrubs possess many wonderful attributes: evergreen foliage, beautiful, fragrant flowers that attract bees and butterflies, colorful new growth, and, in my shady, organic garden, the plants have been disease and pest free. (NOTE: Pieris may be vulnerable to lace bug attack when grown in sun.)

Photos below: Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire‘s snowy-white fragrant flowers and crimson new growth; and Pieris x Brouwer’s Beauty, first in flower, and later when the light green new growth creates an elegant contrast with the dark evergreen foliage:

copyright 2014 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

In addition to Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ and Pieris x ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’ other fabulous Pieris cultivars available for purchase include: Pieris japonica ‘Katsura’; P.j. ‘Dorothy Wyckoff’; P.j. ‘Forest Flame’; P.j. ‘Scarlett O’Hara’; P.j. ‘Passion’; P.j. var. yakushimanum ‘Cavatine’ (Dwarf).

 

For shady gardens, the evergreen, low-growing shrub Sarcoccoa hookeriana var. humilis  is an ideal ground cover or decorative edging. In early Spring, it produces tiny, very fragrant flowers that release their delicious perfume into the air, and the plant enjoys hardiness and good health all year round.

courtesy of Deer Country Gardens

photo courtesy of Deer Country Gardens

 

A deciduous shrub that caught my eye, Spirea japonica ‘Double Play Red’, flaunts unique vibrant red flowers and showy dark-burgundy new growth.

photo by permission of Proven Winners

photo by permission of Proven Winners

 

Multi-award winner and universally admired Geranium ‘ Rozanne’ is a must-have perennial. Deer Country offers two gallon plants for only fifteen dollars. Grab them before they fly out the door.

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

 

 

A quart size of the sturdy-stemmed beauty Digitalis purpurea ‘Candy Mountain’ is a steal at five dollars. Unlike other foxgloves, this enchanting biennial’s rosy-pink flowers face upward, revealing its speckled throat. Anne Haines thinks the plants are “almost certain to bloom this year.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

 

Vegetable growers rave about Asparagus officinalis ‘Jersey Giant’, a hardy, long-lived, high-yielding, disease-resistant variety. (Planting instructions are provided on Deer Country’s website.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is but a taste of the amazing feast of deer-resistant plants offered by Deer Country Gardens. For easy access to their website, go to LINKS and click on.

2015 What’s New?

And the snow continues to fall.

copyright 2015 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 — Lois Sheinfeld

Doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m sitting by the fire reading about the 2015 plant offerings from Broken Arrow Nursery and dreaming about seasons to come. I’ve posted before about this Nursery, so onto the plants:

 

Abies koreana ‘Kohout’s Icebreaker’

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

This very slow-growing mini — increases only about an inch annually — was chosen by the American Conifer Society to be a 2014 Collector’s Conifer of the Year. Deservedly so. A standout evergreen with healthy, dense growth and beautiful silvery needles. In lieu of a dog or cat, highly pettable.

 

Pinus parviflora ‘Tani Mano Uki’

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another unique conifer, this Japanese White Pine cultivar delights with pink buds that open to white needles before eventually turning blue-green.

 

Clethra barbinervis ‘Takeda Nishiki’

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

A widely sought after variegated Clethra that’s all about the foliage, Takeda Nishiki sports dramatic green and pink leaves. At maturity, the deciduous shrub can attain a height of 6 feet.

 

 

Epimedium x ‘Pink Champagne’

 

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

Pink Champagne flaunts vibrant pink and raspberry flowers that float above the plant’s exquisite purple-mottled foliage. No wonder it is said to be the most beautiful Epimedium bred by the acclaimed plantsman and Epimedium guru, Darrell Probst. A splendid shade-loving, perennial ground-cover.

 

Skimmia japonica

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

male Skimmia — photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

female Skimmia — photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superb evergreen, fragrant-flowering shrub for shade. A treasure.  (For a detailed discussion of Skimmia’s attributes and requirements, see February 2013 Post: “Skimmia japonica: Shade Plant Sublime”.)

2015 What’s New?: Klehm’s Song Sparrow

It’s that time of year again: Mail-order nursery catalogs are arriving with their long-anticipated promise of Spring and of gardening anew. As usual, one of my all-time favorite nurseries, Klehm’s Song Sparrow, has a catalog filled with choice ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials. I’ve been a Klehm customer for over 20 years and can attest to the quality of their plants and customer service. Needless to say, the most difficult thing is limiting my 2015 choices.

Selecting the first two plants on my list was not difficult. Nursery owner, Roy Klehm, is an accomplished hybridizer of peonies and daylilies, and since I wrote about his peonies last year (See Post “2014: What’s New”), his daylilies have been rightly demanding equal time. A good place to start:

Hemerocallis ‘Bearded Dragons’

 

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

One look was enough. My order is in for this exquisite daylily with flowers of royal purple edged with creamy-yellow ruffling. Mesmerizing! Think runway and Alexander McQueen.

 

Hemerocallis ‘Rumba Picotee’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

I was also captivated by the recently introduced Rumba Picotee, an ivory-buff daylily painted with a green throat, a rich purple flare, and a purple ruffled edge. Moreover, the 6 inch flowers are fragrant. A most welcome bonus.

As my readers know, I am a fragrance groupie, constantly on the prowl for beautiful and hardy perfumed plants. Klehm’s Song Sparrow shares my addiction, as evidenced by the upcoming parade:

 

Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’

image courtesy of Proven Winners

image courtesy of Proven Winners

 

The clematis vine, Sweet Summer Love, inherited the important attributes of fragrance, health and vigor from one parent—the floriferous, snowy-white-flowered Autumn Clematis (See Post, “Fall 2014: The Fragrant Garden”)—and from the other parent (unknown), the assets of cranberry-violet color and summer flowering. A winning combination.

 

Clematis tangutica ‘Helios’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

Golden-flowered Helios has small, coconut scented, bell-shaped flowers in summer, followed by awesome, silky, seed heads. A compact grower, it would be perfect in a container, or growing through a shrub.

Klehm’s ships two-year-old Clematis plants, well rooted and trellised. They have always bloomed the first season in my garden. (Note: This is my experience, not a Klehm guarantee.)

 

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Peaches and Cream’

image courtesy of BallHort

image courtesy of BallHort

 

Every garden should have at least one fabulously fragrant Honeysuckle vine. I have several, but I’m adding super-compact Peaches and Cream for its non-stop, spring to late summer bloom, and vibrant pink buds that open to ivory and peach flowers.

 

Tree Peony ‘Joseph Rock’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

This rare heirloom plant is celebrated and highly prized for its beauty, vigor and fragrance. An elegant garden jewel that will lend radiance and gravitas to any landscape.

 

Tree Peony ‘Shima Nishiki’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

For years I having been searching high and low, without success, for a variegated Tree Peony. Finally, there it was, calling out to me from page 49 of Klehm’s print catalog, the gorgeous red and white Shima Nishiki, plant of my dreams. And it is even said to be mildly fragrant. Amen to that!

Can’t wait for Spring.

To easily access Klehm’s website, go to LINKS and click on.

December 2014: Pieris japonica ‘Bert Chandler’

l am in awe of the evergreen shrubs that delight the eye in the winter landscape. In my garden, they must also earn their keep for the rest of the year.

As you know, I’m very partial to deer-resistant — deer-proof for me — shade-loving, fragrant-flowering, evergreen Pieris; I grow, lecture, and write about a diverse assortment of wonderful cultivars that enjoy multi-seasons of interest. Pieris japonica ‘Bert Chandler’ is my latest addition and addiction.

My young shrub hasn’t flowered yet but Bert is really all about the foliage. In the Spring, his new growth emerges pink, then turns white, and finally a rich green. A heavenly display! (Photos below.)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I’ve paired Bert with two complementary plants: a pink-flowering Rhododendron (seen above peeking out from the top of the first photo) and, mirroring Bert’s foliage, a pink and white flowering Enkianthus. (Photo below.)  A charming May threesome.

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Finally, either as another companion plant for Bert, or, as in my garden, a stand-alone-star, the luminous Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’ (a/k/a “Floating Clouds”) deserves to be on your holiday wish list. (Check out the photo below of Ukigumo in May, newly dressed in bridal-white. Magical!)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Wishing You All A Wonderful Holiday And A Joyful, Healthy, New Year!

 

Fall 2014 Thanksgiving: Outrageous Orange

The academics are at it again.

Earlier this month, while you stood in line waiting to vote, did you notice people sniffing each other? You know, like dogs. A recent study out of Harvard, Brown, and Penn State Universities concluded that we are attracted to the body odor of people with similar political views. (I kid you not. See: The New York Times, Oct. 5, 2014, Sunday Review, p.5.) As explained by one of the researchers: “I believe smell conveys important information about long-term affinity in political ideology that becomes incorporated into a key component of subconscious attraction.”  Oh.

Huh??????

From street smells (See prior Post of September 18, “Fall 2014: The Fragrant Garden” ) to people smells. What will these surprising folks think of next?

Delighted to report that my attention is focused elsewhere, on sight, not smell. We are but a whisper away from Thanksgiving, and Mother Nature has finally given us much to be thankful for: My garden is awash in the dazzling colors of Autumn. This year, orange predominates in spectacular shades of apricot, peach and burnt orange.

First, to set the stage, an abundant pumpkin display at a local farm stand:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And now a few stars of my autumn garden:

Oaks:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Dogwoods:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Parrotia:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Euonymus Berries:

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Japanese Maple:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And, finally, my husband’s favorite rose, the luscious Rosa ‘Just Joey’:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Note: Under CATEGORIES click onto Great Recipes for Thanksgiving treats.

 

 

 

Fall 2014: Betula lenta & Peattie’s Native Trees

It began life on the shady east side of the house, this gift from Mother Nature, improbably nosing its way up through a path of dirt and gravel to reach the light.  Even as a seedling, I knew it was special.

Growing straight and tall with no help from me (save supportive adoring looks and whispered sweet nothings), the object of my affection developed into an elegant tree, unlike any I had.

Yet, that’s not entirely true. The lovely tiered branching was similar to a nearby dogwood and the foliage was almost identical to a white-barked weeping birch which succumbed to disease years before.

A romantic dalliance between a dogwood and a birch?  No. I don’t think so.  Besides, no way their progeny could possess the tree’s resplendent mahogany-red, Black Cherry Tree like bark.

Actually, the richly painted bark was a dead giveaway, but I didn’t get it until a tree guru came to visit.  He took one look, broke off a twig, handed it to me and said: “Smell this.”  Ah hah!  Unmistakable.  The delicious, heady aroma of wintergreen.  I should have known.

My treasure, Betula lenta, commonly called Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch in apt tribute to its unique aroma and bark, is native to the U.S.A. For years, the tree was the primary source of the extract, oil of wintergreen, used to flavor medicine and candy.  Author Donald Culross Peattie informs us that the sap was also the essential ingredient of Birch Beer; and in his noted work, A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America (Houghton Mifflin Co. 1950), he shares an old-time recipe:

Tap the tree as the Sugar Maple is tapped, in spring when the sap is rising and the buds are just swelling; jug the sap and throw in a handful of shelled corn, and natural fermentation — so the mountaineers tell us — will finish the job for you.”

(Hopefully, this brew didn’t finish off the mountaineers as well!)

In the foreword of his book, Peattie voices an intention to aid in the identification of trees, and the book includes valuable, detailed descriptions. But he also prized what makes a tree most interesting and important to man. “Almost every tree in our sylva,” he observed, “has made history, or witnessed it, or entered into our folkways, or usefully become a part of our daily life. To tell a little of these things is the main purpose of this book.” And these fascinating, informed discussions make the book a must-read.

Someone once said to Peattie: “I see you could not resist the temptation to be interesting.” Unfortunately, his book is out of print. Do search it out. It’s a treasure.

And so is my gift from Mother Nature, Betula lenta (Cherry Birch).   Photos below.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2011 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Fall 2014: Autumn Splendor

Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn-olive)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

A favorite of migrating songbirds, this large, tree-like shrub has a reputation as an aggressive garden bully. It’s a reputation well deserved. Blame it on the birds: They find the succulent, red autumn fruit irresistible and disperse the seeds far and wide.

Yet, for many years I have grown and treasured five multibranched, shapely plants. Yes, I’m forever pulling up unwanted seedlings, but, on balance, Autumn-olive’s virtues far outweigh the bother.

Every Spring, the shrub’s lovely white flowers release an intoxicating perfume that travels on the air. (Love those fragrant plants!) And the abundant berries produced in the Fall are very showy. As are the silvery undersides of the shrub’s green foliage.

Given acid, well-drained soil, Autumn-olive is easy-care, hardy, drought tolerant and shade tolerant.

And, most important, if you grow Elaeagnus umbellata, the birds will thank you.

Note: Autumn-olive is very similar to Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), which sports gray-green foliage and yellow fruit.

 

Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

What a grand shrub this is! Introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum in 1966, Onondaga, a multi-season performer, deserves a wider audience. In Spring, the new soft foliage emerges bronzy-pink before turning green. Then in May, the shrub produces fabulous lace-cap type, bicolor flowers, with dark-pink budded centers edged with snowy-white florets.

And, as shown in the photos above, it’s a showstopper in the Fall when the leaves turn to shades of glowing pink.

My 8 foot plant flourishes in shade and for over fifteen years has been easy-care and disease-free.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. More garden splendor to come.

Fall 2014: The Fragrant Garden

Isn’t it amazing what some academics will do to distinguish themselves from the rest of the herd?

Kate McLean, who teaches at Canterbury Christ Church University in Britain, is wandering the streets of New York conducting Smellwalks and collecting data for the creation of a Smellmap of the city. No kidding. She has already Smellmapped several cities in Europe.

“It’s a completely different way,” she said, “of knowing the world.”

On Wednesday, September 10, she led a nosy group of 24 on a sniffing tour of Brooklyn. According to the New York Times’s intrepid reporter, who covered the event, they experienced and recorded smells of “car exhaust, subway grit and festering sewer”, not to mention a “pungent stench” reminiscent of “conditions perilous to human life”. (The New York Times, 9/12/2014, p. A27.)

Different strokes for different folks. All I want to smell are the delicious, sweet perfumes of my fragrant plants. Please join me now on an autumn Fragrantgardenwalk focusing on a favorite tree, rose, and vine:

Cercidiphyllum japonicum  (Katsura tree)

For about a week, the senescent foliage of this beautiful, deciduous tree has been filling the garden with the scent of caramel. It’s intoxicating — like living near a candy factory.

In the Spring, the Katsura tree’s lovely heart-shaped leaves emerge a rosy-pink, then turn green for the rest of the growing season. Before the leaves drop, they turn yellow with hints of pink, and only then release their fragrance into the air. (Photos below)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

There are upright and weeping varieties of Cercidiphyllum. I grow both forms. And when the trees advance through the growing season on different schedules, I reap the benefit of an extended window of yummy aroma. (Photos below)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

Katsuras do require adequate moisture. They don’t like it dry. Otherwise, they have been problem-free.

 

Rosa ‘Lyda Rose’

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

For fragrance, beauty, good health, hardiness, and continuous bloom from May to frost, USA-bred Lyda Rose is unmatched. The bees agree. ( Note the photos below with the bee pileup—two bees sweetly nestled in one flower!)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

Lyda can take a bit of shade. And she’ll do well in a pot. Trust me: To know her is to love her.

 

Clematis terniflora  (Sweetautumn Clematis)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

When I walk out my front door onto the front porch, I’m greeted by the sweetly fragrant flowers of the autumn clematis vine. By wrapping an Ilex pedunculosa in its soft embrace, it managed to climb 14 feet into the air, peek over the porch railing, and say Hi.

Moreover, the vine attained this height in one growing season. A piece of cake for an established plant; it can grow to 20 feet after being hard-pruned to the ground in Spring. And once established, it should be hard-pruned because it flowers on new growth. When the flowers fade, they produce interesting, showy seed heads.

The vigorous vine does tend to volunteer all over the place — ofttimes unnoticed until the flowers appear in the Fall. This may be a major drawback for some, especially in formal gardens. Yet, for the most part, I allow it to scramble about. I like pleasant, flowerly surprises.

BTW, Clematis terniflora does not harm its host plant.

 

Fragrant plants add so much pleasure to a garden. Why not grow a symphony of sweet scents?

2014: Variegated,Vivacious, & Vigorous

When we lived in California, friends gave us an opulent orchid plant from a specialty nursery. It arrived with registration papers evidencing a royal pedigree as long as your arm.  In short order Her Orchidness checked us out, concluded rightly that she was adopted by peasants, and promptly committed suicide. We were devastated.

From that time, with few exceptions, we have tried to avoid iffy plants that require a lot of pampering. Don’t like it when they die. And careful selection is even more important now that Mother Nature has turned into a Loony Bird.

I’m nuts about variegated-foliage plants but they are particularly problematic; too often, while the standard form may be hardy and vigorous, its variegated version is not.

Therefore, it is entirely appropriate on Labor Day to celebrate three wonderful variegated plants that will work for you, not the other way around. All have survived and thrived in my garden despite Mother Nature at her most demented:

Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Wow. A hardy, variegated Japanese Maple. For me, it doesn’t get better than that. And Japanese Maple guru J.D. Vertrees has deemed Ukigumo one of the “most outstanding” variegated cultivars.

Ukigumo means “floating clouds”, an apt description. The photos above chart its lovely, blended, green-white-pink coloration changes through the seasons. For optimum performance, this stunning shrub requires shade.

A slow grower, after many years Ukigumo may reach ten feet.

 

 

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

With its dramatic green and white foliage, unique horizontal branching and vigorous growth, this is truly a beautiful, awe-inspiring Dogwood.

In my garden, it has been moved twice — once when it was molested by deer and again when it outgrew its space — without trauma or setback. And it has come through horrific winters unscathed.  One tough cookie!

Grown in shade, after about twenty years the tree is approximately 18 feet tall and nine feet wide and, apart from the deer, has been problem free.

 

Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I was never a fan of Boxwood and came into possession of this plant quite by chance. (See December 2011 Post: “Pest Alert: Box Tree Caterpillar.”)

As you can see from the photos, it’s become quite a handsome plant. And, to my surprise, it hasn’t been beset by pest or disease. And, to my further surprise, I rather like it.

Happy Holiday!

UPDATE 2015: Box died from disease. I don’t recommend it.